Tonight I am just writing honestly, straight from the heart. Not that I haven’t been before (I certainly have), but this is more personal, more like an open letter to all of you.
I would like to think that I have it all together. I do not. I would like to think that you have it all together. You do not.
None of us do.
We are flawed, marred, scarred, weary, broken… We are a mess – individual and collectively. There is no sense in trying to hide it. Ignoring the mess doesn’t make it go away.
But, don’t lose heart. There is hope for all of us, for each of us. That hope is Jesus Christ. Now, I had to think twice at the phrasing of that sentence. It is one of those religious lines that has become so vague, so used, so repeated that it suffers from the contempt that familiarity brings. Yes, yes… Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so…
The emptiness of loveless legalistic religion does nobody any good. Rules and regs are important for setting moral lines and defining what is sinful. But all rules and no heart saves no one. In fact, you and I cannot perform well enough to save ourselves. We are sinful. We are self interested. We are a mess.
I am a mess.
You are a mess.
So… what saves us? The grace of God. The belief that Jesus died for our sins, because He loves us.
Yes, Jesus loves you. The Bible tells us so.
The reality of our situation is that we cannot earn anything from God, and we certainly do not deserve any blessing He places in our hands. But God is our Father, Abba. I’m not referring to the ultra popular ’70s pop band, but the Aramaic word Jesus used to refer to His Father.
To our Father.
It means “papa.” It is a childlike expression of trust in daddy. It is a term of tender endearment, a recognition that He loves us and cares for us in a very real way. We don’t have to understand it fully. We just have to accept it.
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. – Romans 8:12-17 (ESV)
Only trusting in a God, believing in His love for us – despite circumstances and trials and troubles – can save us. We must have a childlike faith. No religious incantations, no amount of good deeds, no perfect church attendance will save anybody. Empty religion is just that: empty.
The only thing that matters is that we love God, and love others more than self. And love is active. You don’t just say it, you do it. It’s real. It’s reality. No legalism, for that only leads to judgment (which is ironic, given that we are commanded to “judge not”).
Don’t hide behind religion. Face reality. Be honest with yourself. I am a mess. So are you. We’re all in the same boat. Sin is the great moral leveler, because we all have it.
By the same token, don’t sit and just brood over your broken state. Focus on the solution: Jesus Christ. God’s Word proclaims reality, not our feelings or opinions. Have total faith in Abba, and find the freedom that knowing Christ brings.